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BOSTON -- A new report finds further proof that today's youth are a lot different than their grandparents and even their parents. This time it is when it comes to driving.
Research by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and the Frontier Group revealed that Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade. And notably, the report, "Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy," found that young people are decreasing the amount they drive and increasing their use of transportation alternatives.
"For the first time in two generations, there has been a significant shift in how many miles Americans are driving each year," said Phineas Baxandall, senior transportation analyst for the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and a co-author of the report. "America needs to understand these trends when deciding how to focus our future transportation investments, especially when transportation dollars are so scarce."
This marks is the first time, according to the report, since World War II that Americans are driving less. Overall, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year by 2011 than in 2004.
The trend really stands out in younger Americans, according to a release from U.S. PIRG. The average young person (age 16-34) drove 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than the average young person in 2001. The report also noted that a growing number of young Americans do not have driver's licenses. From 2000 to 2010, the number of 14-to-34 year olds without a license increased from 21 percent to 26 percent.
Instead of getting behind the wheel, the report added, the annual number of miles traveled by 16-to-34 year olds on public transit such as trains and buses increased by 40 percent from 2001 to 2009.
U.S. PIRG explained that the recession has played a role in Americans cutting back on their driving. Those unemployed, or underemployed, have a difficult time affording cars and commute to work less often -- if at all. However, the report found that young people who are employed and/or are doing financially well are still driving less.